Is the AV-8B Advanced Harrier Aircraft Ready for Full-Scale Development?

PSAD-79-22: Published: Jan 30, 1979. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1979.

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In 1979, the Secretary of Defense is planning to authorize full-scale development of the AV-8B Harrier aircraft. A prototype effort was started in 1976 to demonstrate that it will be possible to double the range and payload capability of the aircraft without developing a new engine. Testing has been successful and ahead of schedule. A Marine Corps analysis indicates that the vertical take-off Harrier is a more cost-effective system than the F/A-18 Hornet, a conventional take-off plane originally designated to replace certain Marine and Navy aircraft. If this is proven, the Harrier program will be substituted for the Hornet.

The results of the analysis show that neither program is substantially superior to the other. Additional testing may be necessary if the present evidence is not sufficient. Until a definite need is shown for developing the Harrier, it is GAO's opinion that the aircraft should not be developed further.

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